We recently conducted an LKDSB Youth Talk for intermediate students to share their voices. It was modelled after TEDx and we had a great turn out of students, teachers and parents. Stay tuned for it on youtube.
One talk stood out to me and has me thinking again. I just read Is our job as a teacher obsolete? by Jonathon So (
@MrSoclassroom) in which he questions the amount of information sharing we do as teachers. With information readily available, will our jobs become obsolete if we do not rethink education. In other words, we no longer attend school to obtain knowledge – per se.
“How Can You Assess My Creativity?”
A grade 7 student said this line in one of his talks. He was referring to the fact that he never really did well in Art class but is loving Genius Hour. For him, the difference was that in Art all students did the same thing and were compared to each other on a quantified scale whereas in Genius Hour he could doodle and draw whatever he wanted. Genius Hour brought out his love of the Arts – more specifically – his creativity. How do you assess that?
While we keep preaching buzzwords like “21st century pedagogy” and “6Cs” and “passion projects” – I don’t expect much to change until we rethink assessment practices. Put observations and conversations aside, if our job at the end of the day is to assign a numerical value or letter grade, I don’t see an end to “regurgitation of facts”. Tests. quizzes and worksheets are very easy to mark and compare. After all, aren’t we to compare students on a “standard” ?
Jonathon’s post also lead me to the following ideas:
The biggest issue with scheduling timetables for me is that we dictate when learning will happen. I hate telling students who are knee deep in a rich math task that they have to stop the learning and go to another class, although I am not sure of the alternative if we have rotary teachers. I understand the allocation of minutes. I get it. I also understand that removing rotary is a solution to this problem. But one solution might cause more problems. After all, these kids will have eight teachers in grade nine.
I also struggle with the bell telling us when we can and cannot eat. We’ve actually moved to “working lunches” in my class. With the exception of students who monitor primary classes, we eat whenever we want. It is sometimes difficult to know whether it is class time or lunch time as we eat and work away as we please.
Lastly, I feel strongly that we will continue to see regurgitation until we reform assessment. While Growing Success empowers us to converse and make observations, we still have exam policies in place everywhere. Until we redefine Success Criteria and rubrics, we will continue to quantify student learning. It is quite difficult to assign a numerical value to anecdotal notes.
I also had a conversation with Deborah McCallum (@) about Collaborative Inquiry, Innovation, Reimagining School. She wrote a great post on the idea of makerspaces, learning commons and creativity.
While I applaud and admire the concept of having a learning commons, I wonder about the pedagogy behind it.
Are we creating a true environment for students to explore? I wonder if a scheduled visit to the Learning Commons would yield this. Are we better off to jump into the Learning Commons when the inquiry questions arise? I remember as a kid going the the Library during Library time and pretending to find a book for the full period. What a waste. I have concerns about our new makerspace / learning commons models. It has to be more than just “engagement”.
Similarly, I continue to hear about schools dismantling computer labs to avoid the “all will do the same activity in rows” concept. The reality is we are replacing computer labs with mobile labs. From a pedagogical standpoint, what really has changed? All we have done now is brought the lab to the class. Many classrooms still have all students doing the same task, but on iPads. Should have left the lab alone.
So, as we continue to push student choice, creativity, collaboration, inquiry, etc. isn’t it about time we stop comparing students to each other for assessment? Technology allows us to personalize learning, differentiate instruction and make all students successful. How can I assess personalized learning with a common rubric?
Thanks Brody, from grade 7 for making me think: “How Can You Assess My Creativity?”